It pays to be a celebrity hairstylist (OR DOES IT?)!by Tricia Despres
Whether touting his insanely popular line of hair extensions on the Home Shopping Network, or filming in Morocco for Jessica Simpson's upcom-ing VHI series "The Price of Beauty," celebrity hairstylist Ken Paves has his hands full with not only hair, but successfully running what is turn-ing into a multimillion dollar brand. "I grew up in a town of $8 haircuts, and now the world is interested in my work?" exclaims Paves. "It's really incredible." In fact, celebrity hairstylists now have the ability to become celebrities themselves thanks to the public's fascination with the high-paced world of the entertainment industry. But just what does it take to become a successful celebrity hairstylist? And is it worth the never end-ing scrutiny of the public and the sacrifices of one's private life?
"Being a celebrity hairstylist is not right for everyone," explains celebrity stylist Diana Schmidtke, who has worked with the likes of male stars such as Ashton Kutcher, George Clooney and Snoop Dogg. "There are plenty of hairstylists who work in the fashion indus-try without ever touching a celebrity. Other artists simply don't care to deal with celebrities. But if you are one of those stylists aspiring to become a celebrity stylist, there area lot of options out there for you."
Of course, as is the case in a num-ber of professions, being in the right place at the right time is key. Paves met longtime celebrity client Jessica Simp-son over ten years ago on the set of her first album cover. At the last minute, Simp-son's record label decided they wanted to put her out with long hair instead of the short do she was sporting at the time. Paves put extensions on her, and the pair have worked together ever since, including collaborating on the Hairdo line of clip-in hair extensions. "I have worked alongside world-renowned hairstylists during tours in Europe working on couture shows for Versace, Valentino and more, soI learned that working hard pays off, and being professional at all times while enjoying what you do is always important," said Paves.
Professional celebrity hairstylists agree that investing in as much ed-ucation as possible when first getting started will pay off in the long run. Learning hair along with makeup will allow you to be desirable to a wider range of clients. And most of all, remember everyone has to pay their dues at the beginning. "I started by assisting other (hair and makeup) artists and doing 'test' shoots with any photographers I could meet in order to gain experience and get a book started," explains Me-lissa Schleicher, whose celebrity client list includes Rascal Flatts, Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley. "I assisted an established hair and makeup artist here in Nashville named Melanie Shelley and she simply had more artists than time so I was able to pick up my first celebrity artist and build my own clientele that way."
CUTTING IT WITH THE BOYS
"There are plenty of hair-stylists who work
in the fashion industry without ever touching a celebrity.
Otherartists simply don't care to deal with celebrities.
But if you areone of those stylists aspiringto become
a celebrity stylist, there are a lot of options out there for you."
Most male celebrities collaborate with onestylist who will work on both hair and makeup, sometimes called a 'groomer.' For example, Schleicher can often be found on a video shoot not only working on Rascal Flatts' lead singer Gary Levox's spiky locks, but powdering up his nose, too. Stylists agree though that working with men's hair prob-ably won't lend itself if you're looking for a creative outlet. "I have always been known as a groomer," adds Schmidtke. "I've also always been known as getting along well with the guys. Our personalities usually mesh really well." So if you're interested in working with men, immerse yourself in the men's fashion magazines and keep up with the trends in male hairstyles. "Go ahead and get your cosmetology license and learn to do hair and makeup," says Schleicher. "It will benefit you in the long run." Attending barber school is also a good idea. Succeed in this particu-lar field, and a relatively successful men's groomer can make anywhere from $350 to $1,000 a day, especially if you make a good impression. "My entire career has been based on re-booking," said Schmidtke, who currently lives in Los Angeles and recently wrote the book SHORTCUTS To a Successful Career as a Hairstylist or Make Up Artist in the Fashion and Entertainment Industry. "Just like when you are working in a salon, longevity is not enough."
BOYS VERSUS THE GIRLS
"I started by assisting other hair and makeup
artists and doing 'test' shoots with any photographers
I couldmeet in order to gainexperience
and geta book started."
In a world filled with on-lookers ready and aimed to criticize the hairstyles of those walking down the red carpet, working and styling female hair takes confidence and trust on behalf of both the stylist and their female celebrity cli-ent. "I believe when I work with women, they really feel that I am there for them, 100% about them, and that my sole goal is to make them feel beautiful, which in return resonates as out-ward beauty," says Paves, who regularly works with Jennifer Lo-pez, Celine Dion, Eva Longoria and Lady Gaga. "I love to help women to recognize their own beauty and to feel confident about them-selves - that is beautiful." But Schleich-er adds that walking the fine line of being their beauty expert is important. "Be willing to listen to what they want but also be honest enough to tell them what does or does not look good for them. My relationship with my clients is all about trust on many levels."
"Working with men is an easier task," said Tiffanie Dixon, whose celebrity client list includes Whitney Houston, Sarah Jessica Parker and Brandy and who plans to open a celebrity salon and design academies in Las Vegas and New York. "Men usually know exactly what they want. Women tend to be more open about their options. With women I usually have to analyze their personalities to create a look and I spend more time try-ing to find a look that fits their personality and their lifestyle," explains Dixon.
"Part of being a hairstylist, celeb-rity or not, is being able to createa look that flatters features and works with the hair type whether your client is a man or a woman," adds Paves, who currently owns salons in Florida, Las Vegas, Beverly Hills and in his hometown of Detroit, Michigan. "When I create a look for some-one I am always inspired by the dress, makeup or event I am styling for, too.I love to create a hairstyle that completes a look and portrays something beautiful."
With the right amount of hard work and good old-fashioned luck, becoming a celebrity hairstylist can be within your reach. Become successful, and the most accomplished ce-lebrity hairstylist can earn a $2,500 day rate and in some cases higher.
"Understand how the industry works and make it work for you," concludes Schmidtke.
HOW TO BECOME A CELEBRITY HAIRSTYLIST
Location, Location, Location
Try to live in a city which offers the greatest number of opportunities to work with celebrities. Besides the obvious markets of New York and Los Angeles, smaller markets include Nashville, Chicago, San Francisco, Miami, Dallas and Atlanta.
Build Your Book
The portfolio (also called 'your book') is one of the most important toolsto any freelance celebrity hairstylist. Work with a wide range of photogra-phers and models who can buildup your portfolio. Shoot for fifteento twenty pictures which bestshowcase your work.
Concentrate on getting educated about each and every hair type. Consider obtaining a cosmetology license. Educate yourself on new trends, ideas and products constantly.
Take full advantage of social network-ing. Pool your contacts and let them know your talents and what you are looking for professionally. Securerepresentation such as a managerand agent who will get your workto the right people.